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Sorbello stitch icon
Sorbello stitch

  • Punto Umbro
  • Sorbello knot stitch
  • Basque knot
Sorbello stitch main image

This stitch works two blanket stitches over a straight stitch to create a textured square.  Traditionally, it was worked on evenweave fabric to fill patterns and designs in a similar way to cross stitch; at first glance the two stitches can appear similar as they are both often tightly-worked.  The examples here have been worked loosely in order to show the structure clearly.

Sorbello stitch was originally called Punto Umbro and was used in Italian Renaissance embroidery.  Its use was revived in the 20th century by an embroidery school established in Umbria by Marchesa Romeyne Robert Ranieri di Sorbello. She established links with the Italian-American community in New York and products embroidered with the stitch were sold in the US.  The items were routinely embroidered in a restricted colour palette of white, natural and brown thread and fabric.

Sorbello stitch is generously sponsored by Amanda Ashton

Method

This stitch has been worked slightly larger than normal to show the working clearly.  See the final image in the Method below for a more typical image of the stitch.
To work a vertical row, complete a stitch and then bring your needle up in its bottom right corner and work the next stitch from there.

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1

Bring your needle up through the fabric and take it down a short distance to the right to form a straight stitch.

2

Bring your needle up a short distance below the starting point - this should be the same distance as the length of the previous stitch.  It forms the third ‘corner’ of a square.

3

Take your thread over the first stitch and then slide your needle under it, keeping it on top of your working thread.  Pull taut.

4

Take your thread over the first stitch again, and then slide your needle under it.  Keep your thread to the right of the first loop, and over your working thread.

5

Take your needle down through the fabric, forming the fourth ‘corner’ of the square.

6

Start a new stitch by bringing your needle up in the top right hole from the previous stitch.

7

Take your needle down a short distance away to form a straight stitch, and continue as before.  Each new stitch shares holes with the previous one.

8

Continue in this way.

9

To work additional rows, share the holes from the previous row.

Sorbello stitch method stage 10 photograph
10

This image shows the typical size and density of Sorbello stitch.

Sorbello stitch

Structure of stitch

References

  • Mary Thomas, Jan Eaton, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (Revised Edition) (1989) , p.83
  • Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012) , p.117
  • Jacqueline Enthoven, The stitches of creative embroidery (1987) , p.159
  • Maria Luciana Buseghin, 'Artistic Philanthropy and Women’s Emancipation in Early Twentieth-Century Italy, in the Life and the Work of Romeyne Robert and Carolina Amari', DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/1133/ (Accessed: 19 April 2023)
  • Diana Greenwold, 'Greenwich Village lacw', Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Available at: https://www.cooperhewitt.org/2014/04/15/greenwich-village-lace/ (Accessed: 19 April 2023)
  • 'Anchor Manual of Needlework', archive.org (1958). Available at: https://archive.org/details/anchormanualofne0000unse/mode/2up (Accessed: 30 June 2022)